Blockbuster may have gone out of business but Round 3 of the NPL 2 NSW Men’s competition has all the blockbusters you need for another weekend of spectacular football.
Match of the Round
St George vs Canterbury Bankstown FC – 7pm Saturday 17th March – Ilinden Sports Centre
They’re the NPL 2 NSW Men’s very own Xavi and Iniesta.
Juan Carlos Heras Romero and Raul Beneit Romero have set the league alight thus far in season 2018.
And whilst plans to petition the Mayor of St. George to commission at statue in the duo’s honour may be premature, if the ‘Romero Bandidos’ can continue this superb run of form, calls to the Mayor’s office may start flooding in.
The form of St George is bad news for the Bankstown Berries, who’ve started the season with successive heavy defeats – failing to even register a goal.
Berries coach and much-loved football icon, Perry Moustakas suggested that his side’s lack of form is down to their work ethic and desire rather than skill.
Their 4-0 crushing at the hands of the North Shore Mariners last week was hopefully a reminder to the Berries that points don’t come easily in this league and Moustakas will surely be hoping for a tangible shift in his side’s attitude this weekend.
Football fans will not want to miss this one as it stands to be a season-defining match for both teams; St George as they continue their pursuit of Premiership glory, and Canterbury Bankstown as they try to avoid the clutches of a relegation scrap.
Be sure to head down to the Ilinden Sports Centre on Saturday night for this crucial match!
Hills United vs Western Sydney Wanderers – 7pm Saturday 17th March – Lily Homes Stadium
Someone should tell Hills United that it’s a lot easier to win football games with 11 men on the park.
The Brumbies lack of discipline has cost them dearly in the opening two rounds of the season, dropping points to Spirit FC and Parramatta FC.
The match against Spirit FC is one that particularly stings because Luke McGuire’s side looked to be heading towards their first win of the season in that game.
Despite their disciplinary problems, Pete Cejka and Daniel Fogarty have looked dangerous thus far and it won’t be long before they start finding the net with alarming regularity.
Another positive for the Brumbies has been the form of Luke Turnbull whose heroic performance last round against Parramatta secured a precious point for his numerically disadvantaged side.
For the Western Sydney Wanderers, it’s been a nightmare start to the season.
After throwing away a lead in their opening round match against North Shore Mariners, the young side look bereft of confidence.
Many had expected the Wanderers to challenge for promotion this season and their dismal start, coupled with the fact that arch-rivals Sydney FC continue to enjoy life in the top-tier of NPL football shapes into one bitter-pill to swallow.
But it’s only Round 2 and the good news for both of these sides is that the perfect antidote to the early season blues is on offer in this match – 3 points.
Northern Tigers vs Macarthur Rams – 7pm Saturday 17th March – North Turramurra Recreation Area
Let’s do the math.
Blacktown Spartans beat Macarthur Rams.
Northern Tigers beat Blacktown Spartans.
So, Northern Tigers vs Macarthur Rams should equal…?
If only football was that simple!
Macarthur have certainly not begun the season in the scintillating form they would have hoped for but the power and pace they possess in the side presents a problem for any team and an upset could well and truly be on the cards here.
The Tigers are steadily improving and their impressive win against Blacktown Spartans last round will be remembered, both for the form of striker Liam Mcconaghy and for the defensive solidarity shown at the back.
Skipper Michael Rolston and Will Foristal led the way in their performances last week and the pair will need to be at their best again to deal with the threat of the Rams on the counter attack.
It may only be Round 3 but for Macarthur this shapes as a real ‘six-pointer’ as they entertain many people’s favourites for the competition in the North Shore Mariners in Round 4.
Parramatta FC vs Rydalmere Lions – 3pm Sunday 18th March – Melita Stadium
Parramatta FC are beginning to earn the nickname ‘Mr Squiggle’, because they’ve shown so far this season, they only know how to draw.
Two home matches to begin 2018 has left the home fans at Melita Stadium frustrated as they’ve watched their team walk away with two dissatisfying draws.
But the Eagles will fancy their chances in this match against Rydalmere Lions who are licking their wounds after a heavy 5-1 defeat to Spirit FC.
Rydalmere wasted countless opportunities in that match and Amaury Gauthier in particular will be hoping to make amends in this fixture.
With both teams looking to earn their first ‘W’ of the season, this match promises to be an entertaining fixture.
Mounties Wanderers vs GHFA Spirit FC – 1pm Sunday 18th March – Sydney United Sports Centre
Injury crisis? What crisis?
It might not have been the ideal start for David Perkovic’s side on the treatment table but their two wins from two games is just what the doctor ordered for the competition table.
And their impressive start to the season was exhibited for all to see last round in their 5-1 thumping of competition new boys, Rydalmere Lions.
Kevin Lopes’ spectacular hat-trick grabbed all the headlines but Tomislav Romic’s performance in goal was just as pleasing for Perkovic.
“Romic made a superb save when we were leading 2-1. If that goes in, it could have been a different match”, said Perkovic after the match.
Spirit FC will no doubt be relying on Romic again as they travel to Mounties Wanderers whose traditionally lethal attack is yet to click into gear.
Matthew West and Tai Smith left their shooting boots at home last week but they’re best advised to bring them along to this fixture as Mounties will be relying on the pair to fire them to their first win of the season.
Can the Mounties secure three points to stay in touching distance of the top of the table or will Spirit FC continue their dominant start to the campaign?
Blacktown Spartans vs Central Coast Mariners – 5:30pm Sunday 18th March – Blacktown Football Park
Spartan’s coach Luis Contigiani has lost countless hours of sleep this week, haunted by the memory of a Northern Tiger’s free kick trickling through his helpless goalkeeper’s legs.
It’s a memory that could haunt the club for the rest of their season as the NPL 2 NSW Men’s has a history of tight finishes in the race for a finals’ position.
Was that the night the Spartans let a semi-final spot slip through their legs?
Thankfully the Spartans, and goalkeeper Domenic Nascimben, have 24 rounds to make things right.
Starting with this clash, at home, against the Central Coast Mariners.
And the Spartans will be buoyed by the fact they won their previous game at home this season, in a gritty effort against Macarthur Rams.
They will need to draw on all that determination to upset a team who is putting a big ‘Smylie’ on the face of coach Wayne O’Sullivan.
Jordan Smylie has begun the season in superb touch and will no doubt be the danger-man Contigiani prepares his defence for.
With both teams having close to the lowest average age in the league, this clash is sure to be a delightful exhibition of some of the future stars of Australian and NPL football.
North Shore Mariners vs Mt Druitt Town Rangers – 7pm Sunday 18th March – Sydney United Sports Centre
Stop whatever it is you’re doing Sunday night.
Forget about ‘Married at First Sight’.
This clash promises to be an unforgettable night of football.
The two form teams in the competition, according to the NPL 2 NSW Men’s ‘Form Guide’, do battle in what many are labelling a possible Grand Final preview.
Mt Druitt haven’t conceded a goal so far this season. Led by experienced keeper Carlos Saliadarre, the Rangers have denied both Macarthur and Canterbury Bankstown.
But it’s at the other end of the pitch that the Rangers look so potent.
Emmanuel Gonzalez and Alex Vlismas have developed a telepathic connection on the field, combining brilliantly in the 4-0 rout against Macarthur last weekend.
But this poses the first genuine challenge for Mt Druitt and how they fare in this match will go a long way to telling NPL 2 football fans, whether Mt Druitt are contenders or pretenders this season.
North Shore inflicted similar punishment on the Bankstown Berries in their Round 2 clash last week.
However, it’s their come-from-behind victory against the Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 1 that best symbolises what this team is about.
This is a team that doesn’t know what it means to give up. Their players clock up incalculable kilometres during a match; chasing down loose balls, pressuring the opposition, supporting team-mates off the ball.
It’s a recipe for success and one that will truly be tested in this mouth-watering clash on Sunday night.
Two teams with two perfect winning starts to the season – something’s gotta give.
Source FNSW website